Demolition, other proposals to redefine State Street

More State Street businesses shutting down
State Street

It’s shaping up to be a busy two years on one of Madison’s most popular streets.

A demolition project is already underway on State Street, with another proposed down the road and a major renovation of a pedestrian mall planned near campus.

City and University of Wisconsin-Madison officials sought public input Tuesday for a multimillion-dollar rehab project on the campus end of State Street at UW’s Library Mall.

“As a city, we’re trying to make sure we have a plan that’s aesthetically pleasing and really fits into the design of the university,” said Ald. Scott Resnick, who represents the campus area. He said construction would start in spring 2014.

Meanwhile, the Mullins Group of Madison has proposed demolishing the University Inn on the 500 block of State Street and building a stair-stepping tower of shops and apartments.

The plan would utilize the lone surface parking lot along State Street, which some call a waste of prime real estate and a space that panhandlers used in the past.

The building would be shorter along the street but would rise in height to a 12-story tower near Gilman and Frances Streets, said Brad Mullins of the development team.

The developers are planning on 250 to 300 apartment units, with granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. It still needs approval from the city.

The proposal would displace current tenants, including a cell phone store and several restaurants, for 18 to 24 months during construction, Mullins said.

He said current tenants, such as Kabul Afghanistan and Mediterranean Cuisine could come back afterward, although the market will dictate that.

“This just kind of hits you in the gut,” said Hamed Zafari, who runs the restaurant and found out about the proposal a few weeks ago. “You can never really prepare, even though we had some idea this was going to happen for the past five years.”

Zafari said he would consider moving to Middleton, Madison’s east side, or University Avenue, and would like to stay downtown if he can find an affordable space.

Demolition, other proposals to redefine State Street

Business owners in the 100 block of State Street had similar fears a year ago, when the Block 100 Foundation proposed tearing down buildings for a restaurant, office space and shops.

Crews have now demolished part of the block, leaving two historic buildings near the Overture Center.

The new development is exciting for downtown, said Susan Schmitz, president of Downtown Madison, Inc.

“A lot is happening, which is wonderful,” Schmitz said. “It’s being driven by people wanting to continue to invest in downtown, and people wanting to live downtown and enjoy the downtown.”

The 100 block project, backed by the Frautschi family, will take shape over the next year, Schmitz said.